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Phylogenesis, Book One of the Founding of the Commonwealth
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey Books, 327 pages

Alan Dean Foster
Alan Dean Foster was born in New York City in 1946 and was raised in Los Angeles. He received a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and a Master of Fine Arts in Cinema from UCLA in 1968-69 and then spent two years as a copywriter for an advertising and public relations firm in Studio City, CA.

His first sale as a writer was a long Lovecraftian letter, purchased by August Derleth for the bi-annual magazine The Arkham Collector. His first novel, The Tar-Aiym Krang, was published by Ballantine Books in 1972. Many, many novels followed. Alan Dean Foster's correspondence and manuscripts are in the Special Collection of the Hayden Library of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. Foster and his wife live in Prescott, Arizona.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Into the Thinking Kingdoms
SF Site Review: Carnivores of Light and Darkness
Alan Dean Foster Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Peter D. Tillman

Desvendapur is a misfit, a third-rate professional poet on the backwater colony world of Willow-Wane. Hearing a rumour of a secret alien colony, on impulse he sneaks in and forges a new identity, hoping the weird, smelly "humans" will inspire him, and jump-start his stalled artistic career. Inspiration he gets, plus exotic travel, but at a very high price.

Cheelo Montoya is a ninloco, a small-time Tico hood on the lam from a mugging that went sour. He's hiding out in the Peruvian Reserva Amazonia, waiting for the heat to die down. He falls out of his stolen boat, which chugs on out-of-sight, on autopilot. Now he's hiding in a tree, after an unfortunate encounter with a column of army ants, when this giant bug walks by.

Des and Cheelo make a wary acquaintance, and then an uncertain partnership against the hazards of the jungle: jaguars, anacondas, poachers, etc., and unwittingly advance the budding Human-Thranx alliance. But the wily reptilian AAnn have an idea of how to throw a spanner in the works. Tune in next time for -- Book Two, Dirge -- which should be out "real soon now" as it has been turned in to the publisher.

This is a very entertaining book -- light, fun, and action-packed, with clever twists and likeable characters. It is a lot like the good old stuff we read and loved when we were 14. And, for that matter, like earlier Alan Dean Foster books I've liked -- I'd gotten out of the habit of reading Foster, after several so-so books (and the appropriately-titled The Damned trilogy), so I'm very pleased to see him back at the top of his form. Familiarity with earlier Humanx Commonwealth books is helpful but certainly not required -- if you happen to be new to Foster, or were disappointed before, Phylogenesis is a good chance to see him at his best. Fluff, but good fluff.

Copyright © 1999 by Peter D. Tillman

Pete Tillman has been reading SF for better than 40 years now. He reviews SF -- and other books -- for Usenet, "Under the Covers", Infinity-Plus, Dark Planet, and SF Site. He's a mineral exploration geologist based in Arizona. More of his reviews are posted at .

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